If you live in a small home or apartment, you probably know how hard they can be to decorate. Besides getting the right scale of furniture (not to mention triple-checking the measurements), the size sometimes limits furniture and art placement. But even if you’re limited by space and natural light, paint color can have a big impact on your small living quarters. Here are some designer tricks for making any room look bigger with paint.
Use the Same Color Throughout …
Likewise, use the same paint color throughout. It’s sometimes tempting to paint bathrooms or bedrooms a different color from the rest of the house.
However, using a single color (or a range of closely related hues) gives your space a seamless look. This encourages your eye to flow smoothly as you move from room to room.
… But Consider an Accent Wall
It’s true that using one color on your walls makes rooms feel bigger. But that rule is made to be broken by an accent wall. Accent walls create an optical illusion, drawing the eye to a single focal point.
There’s a variation on this theme, which you can use in rectangular rooms. Rather than painting just one wall a contrasting color, paint the two long walls a darker shade than the two short ones. (Darker can mean a couple of steps up the paint chip, or flat-out dark like charcoal, black or navy.) By emphasizing the room’s length, you can make it feel bigger.
Choose the Right Finish
When you choose a paint, you’ll have to pick a finish. But how do you know, out of the variety of options, which is right?
Flat paint is matte – meaning it has no shine. High gloss, on the other hand, is nothing but shine. Eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss fall between those two extremes.
Stick with an eggshell or satin. The slightly glossier finishes reflect the light, making space look bigger. And choose semi-gloss for trim and doors. The glossier the paint, the more durable and easier to clean it is, making it perfect for these high-traffic areas.
Start With the Correct Undertone
Paint colors aren’t one size fits all. So, choosing a paint color from a list of the best hues for small spaces may backfire. Instead, choose a paint color with the right undertone.
The undertone is the color under the color – that is, the blend of pigments used to create the final color you see. So, choose your paint color according to undertones of the fixed elements in your home, like your flooring and cabinets.
Undertones can range from green to pink to violet to gray to taupe – and then some. So, bring home paint chips in a range of colors and choose the one whose undertone best matches these elements.
If you’re not sure about choosing based on undertone (it takes practice), ask your paint expert to help.
Go Light or Dark
We’ve all heard that lighter colors make a room look larger. And, on the whole, they do, because they reflect light. But don’t assume that light colors are your only option.
But lighter walls, especially pure white walls, can make a room feel like a boring, featureless box. Instead, try a light neutral in the correct undertone to brighten and warm the room.
Dark colors can work in small spaces, too. While they create a dramatic, intimate feel they also blur the edges of the walls. This helps create the illusion of a more expansive room.
Get ideas for colors and how to make a room look bigger with paint at our color tool. There, you can browse pictures of beautiful rooms and order free paint swatches.